Métis Nation of Ontario’s Early Learning and Child Care Conference

February 24-25, 2024

A pattern held within a circle. It includes the colours blue, yellow and various shades of green. The pattern is a floral motif.


Thank you for attending the 5th annual Métis Nation of Ontario’s Early Learning and Child Care Conference.

Please see the drop downs below for all conference information including our agenda, breakout session information, local amenities, and information on the keynotes you will hear from over the next couple of days.

We hope you enjoy this year’s conference!

To download a version please click here: PDF Agenda

Mary Gordon; Roots of Empathy
Mary Gordon is a Canadian award-winning educator, best-selling author, and child advocate. Mary has presented to the UN, UNICEF, the WHO, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation, and many governments. Mary has received multiple prestigious awards, including the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada, and the Governor General’s Award for Innovation. Mary and the Roots of Empathy program are well known with educators working within the Early Years sector.
Roots of Empathy’s mission is “To build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.” they believe, “The leaders of tomorrow are sitting in the classrooms of today, and they need imagination and empathy to be able to identify and solve society’s problems. Empathy is foundational to helping children navigate relationships, form connections, and be inclusive of others.”

Amanda Pont-Shanks; MNO ELCC Programs and Services Manager
Amanda Pont-Shanks has been a proud MNO citizen since 2009. Amanda’s family comes from the historical Red River settlement in Manitoba and still has family in Manitoba active in their Métis communities. Her grandfather chose to settle in Southern Ontario in the early 1960s for employment opportunities. Amanda’s family has stayed in the Niagara Region since and is proud to support a contemporary Métis community.
Amanda is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with the Ontario College of Early Childhood Educators. Amanda has been in the ECE field for over ten years, but her joy of the early years began in childhood. Amanda is a graduate of Niagara College and is currently a part-time student at Brock University. She has previous experience with extended-day programming, child care, and as a Designated Early Childhood Educator with the District School Board of Niagara.
Amanda was an active Niagara Region Métis Council member for seven years, serving as the council’s chair for two years. Amanda began her career at the Métis Nation of Ontario in 2016 as a Métis Family Wellbeing Coordinator, then a K-12 Education officer, and eventually moved into her current role within ELCC.
Amanda is the Programs and Services Manager for Early Learning and Child Care at the Métis Nation of Ontario. She has been in this role since the spring of 2019. Amanda and her team have launched successful programs such as the Child Care Subsidy Program, Extra Curricular Support Program, ELCC Family Camps, Early Learning Educational Kits, and the ELCC Christmas Program. Through these projects, Amanda is proud to support over 2500 Métis children across the Province. Amanda is also a National Advisory Council for Early Learning and Child Care member. The NAC provides advisory support to the Federal Government on advancing a Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system.
Amanda resides in the Niagara Region with her husband, 16-year-old son, and their Chiweenie. She enjoys art, swimming, road trips, and campfires with her family

Real Life Metis Superhero: Louis Riel- Location: Idea Loft
The Early Learning and Child Care book working group will be launching their book, A Real Life Metis Superhero: Louis Riel and providing tips for bringing this into early years learning environments.

ELCC The Giving Tree Story Bag Session- Location: Upper Ballroom
In this session, the ELCC I&P Advisor Team will be launching their new educator resource, The Giving Tree Story Bag. The Advisor team will review the resources included in The Giving Tree: Story Bag and discuss the significant cultural connections that emphasize the Métis core values, especially the connection with the Creator and Mother Earth. All session participants will receive a story bag to take back to their learning environments

Beading on a Canvas- Location: Upper Ballroom
Engage in a beadwork session where participants will have the opportunity to engage in a beading activity that will be provide an activity that would be applicable for early learning environments.

Crafting Connections: A Fibre Experience- Location: Studio 3
This breakout session will spark imagination and creativity by connecting the art of needle felting with blanket stitch (a common stitch often seen in Métis textiles). Participants will be shown examples of 3D felt. 

Building Responsive Environments Through Meaningful Relationships, A Conversation Session- Location: Studio 4, 5 & 6
In this conversation-style session, you and other early learning professionals from around the province will discuss and share the pillars of creating brain-healthy environments that foster meaningful, responsive relationships with the families in your care. Topics discussed in the session will include cultural inclusion, social-emotional domains, engaging relationship building, and creating healthy environments to have healthy learners.

MetisALIVE- Location: Studio 12
In this session, you will engage in a multi-sensory, interactive and fun storytelling experience through a Metis Lens.
Using the ELCC Education Kit in Your Childcare Program – Location: Studio 13
In this session you will review the resources included in the MNO ELCC Education Kit & Learn how Halton Region Children’s Services has successfully included the MNO ELCC Education Kit in their program.

Utilizing Resources: French Session-  Location: Studio 2
In this session, participants will learn how to better utilize resources alongside the Metis Nation of Ontario's Curriculum team. This session will be hosted in French.

Métis Jiggers: Jigging Session (Sunday Only)- Location: Directors Room
Join the Métis Jiggers to for a fun and interactive jigging demonstration.


  • Please contact Heather Ferguson for any inquiries at 905-213-6397
  • If you have an emergency please call 911. The closest hospital to the Intercontinental is Greater Niagara General Hospital located at 5546 Portage Rd, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6X2

Photo of Jordi PlayneJordyn Playne
President, MNOYC

Jordyn currently resides in Penetanguishene and is a descendent of Dusome-Clermont Métis family line from Drummond Island. Jordyn served as the Region 7 Youth Representative on the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council from 2016 to 2020. She is a social worker and mental health advocate. Jordyn has a Master’s Degree in Social Work within the Indigenous field of study program from Wilfred Laurier, a Bachelor of Social Work from Lakehead University and a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Sociology and Canadian Studies.

Madyson Campbell
Region 2 Youth Representative

Madyson Campbell was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is the Region 2 Representative on the Metis Nation of Ontario Youth Council. She is entering her 4th year of a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of British Columbia.

Emily O’Connor
Region 1 Youth Representative

Emily O’Connor is the Region One Youth Representative. She is a descendant of the Morrisseau family line in northwestern Ontario and currently resides in Kenora. She is a graduate of University of Winnipeg and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a minor in Conflict Resolution.

Evan Accettola
Chair of the MNOYC

Evan Accettola is from Guelph in Region 9 and is a descendent of the Dusome-Clermont Métis family line from Drummond Island. Evan has been on the council for a year now as Chair. They are also part of the Two-Spirit Working Group and have been an Infinite Reach Facilitator for two years. Evan is attending school to complete their BA in Sociology/Criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. Evan also has a Certificate in Indigenous Knowledge and Experiences from Toronto Metropolitan University. They are licensed as a Practical Nurse and sit on the Canadian Nurses Association Indigenous Relations Circle.

Samantha Picotte
Region 3 Representative

Samantha Picotte is the Youth Representative for Region 3. However, Sam has been involved with the MNO for as long as she can remember. Samantha was the Youth Representative for the Timmins Métis Community Council before this current role. Samantha’s main goal is to encourage the education of Métis culture and history in elementary and high schools in her region. Sam is looking forward to learning and building new relationships with other youth!


Kelly Duquette
Region 6 Youth Representative

Kelly Duquette is a Métis artist and lawyer from Atikokan, Ontario in Treaty 3, Halfbreed Adhesion Territory. She is a decedent of the Desjarlais, Lucier, and McKay (to name a few) families from the Red River area, and the Region 6 Youth Representative on the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council. Throughout the duration of her legal studies, Kelly specialized in Indigenous law and participated in a number of Indigenous focused internship opportunities. Prior to law school, Kelly graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree and a minor in Indigenous studies from the University of Ottawa. Kelly was not introduced to her Métis heritage until later in her childhood and has found artistic inspiration through the discovery of her hidden identity.

Dalton Latondress
Region 7 Youth Representative

Dalton Latondress’ family is from the community of Penetanguishene, and his family descends from the Brissette-L’Hirondelle Line. He is continuing his education this September at Cambrian College for Environmental Technician. Dalton has sat as the Youth Representative on the Georgian Bay Métis Council from 2015 to 2019. He has been an active volunteer in the community for over 10 years. Dalton is looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the youth of the community, and is excited to see how we can work together as a nation.


Gabrielle Moreau
Region 8 Youth Representative

Gabrielle grew up in Toronto and is entering into her first year of studies in public policy, environmental science, and Indigenous studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Her Métis ancestry comes from the Red River region and can be traced back to Louis Riel’s family. She first became involved in the Métis community volunteering for the Toronto and York Region Métis Council. Gabrielle is excited to meet other Indigenous youth from across the United States during her university studies and to bring an understanding of community-driven solutions to issues facing Indigenous groups in the United States back with her to the MNOYC.

Paige Coture
Region 9 Youth Representative

Paige Coture is the Youth Representative for Region 9. Her family is from the Great Lake Community. For over 20 years, Paige’s grandfather has been involved with the MNO, as well as being the President for a council in Owen Sound. Paige graduated with honors in the Educational Support Program at Conestoga College. Paige is looking forward to this amazing opportunity to be on the MNOYC. As well, she hopes to make lasting relationships with the people who share our culture.

Hannah Bazinet
Post-Secondary Representative on the PCMNO

Hannah Bazinet currently resides in Toronto, ON — in Region 8. Hannah’s Métis ancestry comes from the historic Métis community of Penetanguishene. She completed her BSc in Medical Biophysics at Western University where she was an Infinite Reach Facilitator, and now attends University of Toronto/Michener Institute for Radiation Therapy. Hannah’s main goal in this term is to create safe spaces for our youth to communicate their opinions and concerns , and hopes to act as an informed representative for Métis post-secondary students; working from the grassroots, upwards.

Workshops and Presenters

Tufter Flower Workshop
Marissa Magneson

Marissa Magneson is a Cree-Métis artist, photographer, educator, and workshop facilitator. She has a BFA honours degree from York University and a Master’s degree in Canadian and Indigenous Studies from Trent University. 

Her research explores Indigenous methodologies using beadwork as visual storytelling. Marissa’s work is centred around decolonizing education, strengthening community and cultural reclamation. In her collaborative work with various organizations, Marissa works towards photographing, consulting, educating, and creating programming in meaningful ways.

Marissa looks forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at York University in the fall of 2022 where she will be researching beadwork as pedagogy, a bridge toward reconciliation and cultural reclamation.

Instagram: @MagnesonStudios / @MarissaMagneson

Photography Website

Screen Printing Workshop
Dylan Miner

Dylan Miner is an artist, activist, and scholar. He is a Professor and Interim Dean in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University (MSU). Dylan also serves as Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at MSU.

He holds a PhD in Art History from The University of New Mexico. As an artist, he has hung more than two dozen solo art exhibitions, as well as participated in more than 115 group exhibitions.

He has published extensively, including a booklet on Métis and Anishinaabe beadwork and a notebook for learners of Anishinaabemowin. In addition to this year’s conference, he has presented at the last four Métis Youth Leadership Conferences and hopes to be invited back next year. Dylan is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario.

Zero-waste Kit And Beeswax Wrap Workshop
Cassidy Press

Hello / Taanshi! I am a Métis citizen from the traditional Métis community of Georgian Bay (Region 7), currently residing in my hometown of Penetanguishene.

I have previous experience working with the MNO in the Summer Youth Program for many years. I graduated from Trent University with a B.Sc. Honours degree in Indigenous Environmental Science and a minor in Psychology. My studies focused strongly on the global health of Indigenous Peoples, and how this is related to the environmental crises we are facing today.

I recently completed the Funeral Director/Embalming program at Humber College to expand on my interpersonal skills and continue my education in another science-related field. I am now working as a Climate Change Advisor in the Lands, Resources & Consultations (LRC) Branch in the MNO. Thank-you / Maarsii!

Fishscale Art Workshop
Jacob And Jaime Morse

Jacob McKenzie: Métis on his maternal side from northern Alberta / Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement. Scottish & Kanienkehaka from Tyendinaga Territory on his paternal side.

Jaime Morse: Métis on her paternal side and second-generation German-Canadian on her maternal side. Fishscales are collected from Randy Mercier (Jaime’s father & Jacob’s moshum; of Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement).

Fish scale art is a way to reconnect intergenerationally with traditional Indigenous knowledge and with family affected by colonial policies such as MMIW, residential and day schools and the 60’s scoop.

The fishscales are cleaned, dyed and dry before using them in floral arrangements usually ok black velvet. The art form comes from Lac La Biche, Alberta and is taught at their local college.

The workshop includes a background on fishscale art, shared experiences through a power point presentation and materials with instruction to create a small fish scale art project that folks can take home with them.


photo of Zoey RoySpoken Word Workshop
Zoey Roy

Artist. Activator. Aunty. Zoey Roy is a rebel with a cause. A humorous presenter and a luminous storyteller, Zoey offers practical wisdom for thriving amongst the violence of settler colonialism.

A lover of words, synthesizing knowledge and performance, she has spent the last 13 years traveling the globe sharing her gift of gab. Zoey is a multidisciplinary artist with an insatiable appetite for learning and growing. She has a Bachelor’s of Education, a Master’s of Public Policy and is now embarking on a PhD in Education.

Zoey is Nehithaw-Dené and Michif, a member of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Northern Saskatchewan, and is now based in Kingston, ON where she lives with her partner. Zoey facilitates songwriting workshops almost daily. Operating independently, she maintains a working relationship with the National Arts Centre, Taking IT Global, and the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund so classrooms across Canada get access to music programming for free.

Her partner produces the music! Zoey’s career can largely be attributed to the quality of friendships she has fostered, developed and maintained. As someone who needed witnesses early on in her life, she knew her support system was her lifeline. Her home community of Saskatoon and beyond continue to celebrate her. She was awarded the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, the Indspire Award, and the Saskatchewan Teaching and Learning Award.

Zoey shares a message about love and wonderment, how she used it in her life to propel her in the direction of her dreams, and how she found gratitude along the way.

Creative Writing Workshop
Bekki Wilson

Bekki Wilson (they/them) is a proud two-spirit citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), descending from the Coutures formerly of Drummond Island. Bekki grew up in the Great Lakes Metis region where they briefly served as a youth representative.

Bekki’s career has taken them down many paths including working in the Registry, Education and Communications departments at the MNO, managing an Indigenous youth sport leadership program, and supporting First Nation Municipal relationship building on solid waste management.

Bekki now works in Indigenous Relations with the Nuclear Waste Management organization where they develop and deliver training on Reconciliation and how to build and maintain respectful relationships with Metis and First Nations communities.

In 2014, Bekki published The Tiny Voyageur, a children’s book about a young girl’s discovery of Métis history. The book can be purchased on Amazon, Indigo and on the Friesen Press website.

Métis Beadwork Design Concepts, Principles and Practices
Mitch Case 

Mitch Case is a proud Métis citizen from the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community. Mitch is a community based historian, focusing on the history of Ontario Métis communities; especially those around the Great Lakes.

In June of 2020, Mitch was elected to serve as the Region 4 Councillor on the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Mitch was elected on a platform of advancing Métis Self-Government, improving communication, advancing Métis culture, and most importantly advancing the historic claims of Métis community in then Sault Ste Marie, Superior East, Huron North Shore area.

Mitch has served as a Youth Representative at the local and regional levels and was elected President of the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council (MNOYC) in 2012, and re-elected in 2016. Mitch is passionate defender of the Métis right to self determination and volunteers in schools, colleges and universities across Ontario where he is invited to speak about Métis culture, history, traditions, rights and contemporary issues.

Mitch serves on several boards and committees at the local, provincial and national levels. Mitch is a graduate of Algoma University where he studied Anishinaabemowin and History. Mitch is an avid beadworker, who practices a traditional Métis Floral beadwork style. Mitch began beading in 2012, when he learned to bead in order to prepare gifts for his elders when he became Midewiwin (Great Lakes Indigenous spiritual society.)

In the years since, Mitch has become a very well respected beadworker, known across the Métis Nation. Mitch is known for his traditional floral style that has been described as “Old School” “keeping the Métis floral tradition alive” and “firmly rooted in a Métis way of seeing the world.” Mitch is a former member of the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities which advises the Ontario Premier and 24 Ministries and Agencies on youth policy.


Sculpting Workshop
George Simmard

George Simmard is a 62-year-old Métis clay sculptor from Clearwater Territory. George was born and raised in Thunder Bay and was a Sculptor at the Toronto School of Art. He is now living in the country near Simcoe, Ontario.

Featured in this picture is a sculpture George Simmard made of his dear friend Elder Leon who is a drum maker.

Panel Discussions

‘Art As A Business’ Panel

Pandora Wilhelm: Pandora is the mother of four children and along with her husband Matthew, lives on the unceded territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation in Linwood, Ontario. Pandora was born and raised predominantly in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. She is a proud Métis woman and is extensively involved in her Indigenous Community. Growing up with a musician father, Pandora has always had a strong passion for music. She is currently an Early Childhood Education student at First Nations Tech Institute and aspires to be a Métis Educator. Pandora is passionate about reconnecting the children of our communities with their traditional languages through hands on learning.

Justine Woods: Justine Woods is a garment artist, designer, creative scholar and educator based in Tkaronto (Toronto, Ontario). She is a current Doctoral Student in the Media and Design Innovation Ph.D. program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Justine’s research and design practice centres Indigenous fashion technologies and garment-making as practice-based methods of inquiry toward re-stitching alternative worlds that prioritize Indigenous resurgence and liberation. Born and raised in Tiny, Ontario, Justine is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis Community and is a descendant of the St. Onge and Berger- Beaudoin families.

Marissa Magneson: Marissa Magneson is a Cree-Métis artist, photographer, educator, and workshop facilitator. She has a BFA honours degree from York University and a Master’s degree in Canadian and Indigenous Studies from Trent University. Her research explores Indigenous methodologies using beadwork as visual storytelling. Marissa’s work is centred around decolonizing education, strengthening community and cultural reclamation. In her collaborative work with various organizations, Marissa works towards photographing, consulting, educating, and creating programming in meaningful ways. Marissa looks forward to pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at York University in the fall of 2022 where she will be researching beadwork as pedagogy, a bridge toward reconciliation and cultural reclamation.

Instagram: @MagnesonStudios / @MarissaMagneson

Photography Website

Dylan Miner: Dylan is an artist, activist, and scholar. He is Dean and Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. In 2018, he began collaborating to re-print early twentieth-century graphics from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He has hung 28 solo art exhibitions, as well as participated in more than 115 group exhibitions. Born and raised in Michigan, Dylan Miner is a registered citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). He is a Métis rights-holder from the historic Georgian Bay Métis community – one of seven recognized s.35 rights-bearing Métis communities in Ontario – with an older, ancestral relation to Lesser Slave Lake, Alberta.

Indigenous Film Making Panel

Matt LeMay: Matt is a multiple award-winning Métis filmmaker, who owns and operates LeMay Media. Matt is an innovator in the field of documentary film with a strong focus on reconciliation and the environment. Matt was Canadian Geographic’s Inaugural Filmmaker in Residence and the Co-founder of Indigenous Geographic. Matt is a Citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario and his root ancestors are the Clermont Dusome family that originally hails from the Red River region of Manitoba, Drummond Island & Penetanguishene Ontario. Matt currently lives in the Ottawa Valley with his wife Jennifer and his daughters Ella and Noa.

Tina House: Reporting from the frontlines of Standing Rock and the fight against pipelines – to getting an exclusive tour and reporting from inside the former Kamloops Indian Residential – Canada’s own House of Horror’s – Tina House joined APTN National News in 2007 as a Video Journalist covering stories across BC. A proud Métis from BC, Tina began her television career in 1997 as a Talent Agent for film and TV. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Journalism Award for her story on murdered and missing women and girls. Her early career included public speaking to thousands of Indigenous youth and inspiring them to reach for their dreams and get into film and television. Along with reporting on many important issues and giving a voice to those that can’t speak for themselves, she also dedicates her life to helping people. Tina recently just won the Canadian Screen Award for Best National Reporter.

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